Today on Casting Couch, we will be taking a look at Ales Kot’s “Zero,” one of last year’s most exciting comic debuts. Telling the story of Edward Zero, the book chronicles him at different points in his life as one of the top spies at the Agency, all leading towards a cataclysmic and dystopic future where a young man stands poised to take his life. It’s an exciting read and one that we’re big fans of at Multiversity.
Of course, this week’s Casting Couch does come with an interesting caveat: every issue of the series is done by a different artist. The characters look relatively the same in every issue, but each artist brings with them visual ticks for the characters. Normally we’re looking at a defined iteration of a character when trying to find someone to cast them with, but “Zero’s” modus operandi does make things a bit more difficult in that regard. Or rather, if not difficult, certainly different.
Also something to keep in mind: I’ll only be casting those who I’ve deemed as the core members of the series. Every issue seems to have its own particular antagonist, and while a “Zero” adaptation is in the works, Kot has noted that the book and the adaptation would not necessarily be directly related. As such, it only felt appropriate to cast those whose impact I felt “mattered” a bit more, and I’ve boiled the cast down to a necessary five.
With that in mind,
Edward Zero – Pedro Pascal
Many of you are probably aware of Pedro Pascal’s scene stealing performance on Game of Thrones this season, but I would assume that less of you watched him on Graceland as Juan Badillo, which is what I originally saw him in. Pascal is an incredibly versatile actor, but between these two performances alone I think he certainly has what it takes to play a character like Zero, someone who at once needs to have flashes of James Bond but also elements of George Smiley. Pascal is certainly a captivating actor, someone who knows how to command a scene around him, and I imagine that stepping into Zero’s shoes could offer an interesting challenge.
Fun fact: Pascal has also been in two failed comic-to-TV pilots with Wonder Woman and The Sixth Gun, though he was the lead in neither.
Ginsberg Nova – Paul Bettany
The trick of adaptations is that often times a character who is behind a mask has their identity spoiled simply because you know the actor playing them. However, in the case of Ginsberg Nova, he spent so much time under the mask (up until the climax of issue #6) that we’re in an OK place in that regard; we can rely on someone who we know has particular acting chops rather than adhere to a singular look.
It’s with that that I’ve cast Paul Bettany as Nova. Bettany hasn’t played too many villains over the years, although he did have a memorable role as the monk in The Da Vinci Code, but most of the roles he’s known for are memorable indeed: Charles in A Beautiful Mind, Charles Darwin in Creation, Tom in Dogville. While he’s soon to throw his hat into the superhero ring in a physical role in Avengers 2, I’d still love to see him take on the role of the former agent/world’s greatest terrorist.
Mina Thorpe – Kristen Connolly
Casting Mina is tricky, because as it stands Mina’s role in the series was brought to a quick and abrupt end (though I suspect we might see more of her, one way or another). Mina’s relationship to Zero is quintessential, however, because as detached Zero is from everyone around him Mina is the one person where we see Zero let his guard down a bit. So we want to cast someone who can really bring life to the role of Mina, someone who can play a three-dimensional character in a limited space.
Those of you who saw Cabin in the Woods will remember Kristen Connolly as the lead character in the film, decidedly putting her on the map even with quite a few roles under her belt at the time. What Connolly did in Cabin, though — and obviously this was very much in the spirit of the film — was rather genre breaking and stereotype defying. Dana herself had a particular fate but she broke out of it, and Connolly really nailed that role. Since then we’ve mostly seen her in a supporting role in House of Cards, but I’d like to see her do a lot more. If that can involve being a kick-ass spy, I’d be all for it.Continued below
Sara Cooke – Robin Wright
On a similar House of Cards note, Robin Wright is pretty much perfect for how I read Sara Cooke. This might seem a bit like typecasting and I’ll admit to that, but Cooke portrays herself as very cold, very in-command; she’s the book’s Maria Hill, a woman who knows she is in charge and feels no need to step down from her platform to identify with others.
Robin Wright plays a similar role in House of Cards as Frank’s wife, but she’s also particularly ruthless on the show. It’s interesting to see her evolve from the role of Princess Buttercup to where she is now, but it’s also very easy to identify her development as an actress since then. For where she is now, she’s pretty much a shoe-in for the role of Cooke, and she’d be undeniably perfect at it.
Roman Zizek – Stellan Skarsgard
Zizek was a bit harder to cast than Cooke, but that’s mostly because Zizek himself is a bit harder to identify. On the one hand, he’s a high-ranking member of the Agency, someone who should inherently be feared and distrusted; on the other, he’s actually sort of soft around the edges, particularly when it comes to Zero. Therefore we need someone who we are able to see as in power, but yet someone who we can relate to when the facade slips a little bit.
And if you’ve ever seen Skarsgard in just about anything, you’ll recognize that that description fits him relatively aptly. Whether you’re looking at recent performances like Nymph()maniac or Thor or going back a bit to Insomnia (the original), Skarsgard is a very talented actor who can be both at times menacing or frightening and yet also sympathetic. Zizek is a character who you’re not supposed to necessarily like, but you also want to root for him a little bit at times when he’s not being morally compromising (see: today’s issue of “Zero,” #7); I think Skarsgard knows how to do that kind of role like the back of his hand.